Health & Well-Being

A Good Grief Geese Story

Sit back and relax while I tell you the story of good grief geese and the most comforting bowl of pastina.

As a bird watcher and lover of nature in general, I could not help but think of the instincts of geese as I sat through three beautiful weddings in September. Early in my marriage, my husband gave me a lovely gold pin created by a Maine jeweler titled “Geese Mate for Life.” Did you know that geese mate for life? It is just one of the reasons why I love this bird. My young son, William, would walk around the house imitating their call “ga-LEEK ga-LEEK” in a high-pitched voice. 

When it comes to grief, humans should be more like geese. Their devotion to their partner and their entire flock is incredibly inspiring. They illustrate perfectly the notion that “many hands do light work.” Grief work is the hardest you will ever do. If there is ever a time for a need for loving and supportive companionship, it’s when someone we love dies.

Geese have a few other instincts that we can all learn from. Look up. It’s this time of year with winter in their cry that geese fly in “V” formation. Their journey is a long one. They do it together for a reason. The flapping of their wings allows the bird behind them to have an “uplift,” making the flight less of a burden and making the arduous journey more bearable. 

No one needs or should travel a grief journey alone. Accept support.

Occasionally, a goose falls out of formation. (Oh, those angry years.) It immediately will feel the drag and difficulty of flying alone. What does the flock do? A pair will drop from the “V” and follow the wayward goose to support and protect it until it can continue its own. It’s through a kind of “thick and thin” friendship. It’s the bond of love and compassion at its best— hold your friends up when they can’t hold themselves.  

Now, one thing is for sure. A griever can be super high maintenance. The journey is long. No one person can care for and protect you. When the goose at the point, the one leading the flight, gets tired, it falls back and lets another take over. The goose is exhausted and needs comfort. It is wise to understand that no person can bear your grief’s burden. Take a cue from the geese and expand your flock.

There are times in life when we must rely on each other. Times when we need to be connected and encouraged. We must honk like the geese to show our mutual support and love. Otherwise, we end up traveling alone. Make room for your life partner and a few trusted family and friends. 

With the holidays on the horizon, you might expect a goose recipe from me, but that is not happening here. I love geese, but not on my dinner plate. So, I looked back at my arsenal of recipes and decided to share one from a family cookbook that my cousins and I put together many years ago. 

My extended family is a flock of geese. They have been there for me on so many occasions, but Aunt Faye rescued me in times of trouble during elementary school. Back then, we walked to school and, mid-day, took a break for lunch. Aunt Faye lived only a few doors from the school, and rather than me walking the long route home in the rain and snow, she’d invite me in for a warm bowl of the most comforting pastina. How lucky was I to have the love and support of Aunt Faye? 

Here is her recipe as written in our family cookbook. May it comfort you to your core. 

Photo by Lisa Keys

Aunt Faye’s Pastina

Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 10 minutes | Total time: 15 minutes | Serves: 6


  • 1 pound of pastina (any small pasta shape works)
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • Salt 
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh basil


  1. Boil the pastina until tender. 
  2. Drain the pastina, reserving ½ cup of pasta liquid. 
  3. Add the two eggs, butter, and parmesan cheese to the pasta and reserved liquid to the desired consistency. Stir well.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste. 
  5. Garnish with fresh basil.

Note: Cook the pastina in chicken broth for extra flavor


Lisa Keys

Lisa Keys is an award-winning home cook, mother, grandmother, and retired physician assistant. She has been entering and winning cooking contests since 1990, and her recipes have been well-published in national magazines, cookbooks, and online publications. She holds certifications as a Food Champ, Steak Association judge, and pizza judge. Keys is also a food blogger. Three years after the death of her son, a US Navy Corpsman, she embarked on a public grief journey and became a Food Network Chopped Champion on the 2014 Mother's Day episode. Her inspiring food blog,, followed and continues to reflect Keys' philosophy that preparing and sharing food with others is an extension of one's heart and soul.

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